We still have time to slow the spread: 4 things to know about the coronavirus

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Credit: David Ramos

The experts are telling us that here in the United States, we can avoid hitting that threshold where sizable regions of the country will suddenly step into hell. We still have time to #flattenthecurve, as a popular infographic put it, slowing the spread so that the number of cases never exceeds what our health system can handle.

So everyone needs to understand a few things.

First, the virus is here, and it is spreading quickly, even though everything looks normal. Right now, the United States has more reported cases than Italy had in late February. What matters isn’t what you can see but what you can’t: the patients who will need ICU care in two to six weeks.

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Second, this is not “a bad flu.” It kills more of its hosts, and it will spread farther unless we take aggressive steps to slow it down, because no one is yet immune to this disease.

Third, we can fight it. Despite early exposure, Singapore and Hong Kong have kept their caseloads low, not by completely shutting down large swaths of their economies as China did but through aggressive personal hygiene and “social distancing.

Fourth, and most important: We are all in this together.

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